I have wanted to do this install for a long time and finally got the time to do it. I love my jeep but feel that the swing-out tailgate is a bit annoying and being a pickup-kinda-guy a tailgate seems much more useful.
Enter the SWAG Offroad tailgate kit. I opted for the Heavy Duty hinge version which was a few bucks more than the standard kit, but in my opinion very worth it. I decided not to get the aluminum body panel, thinking that if I wanted it, I would just get it later. Having done the install, I am not sure I would want to attempt to install it afterwards, so if you feel you might want it, get it right off and do it all at once (will explain).
I got the kit in the mail and promptly tore it open. The hardware was neatly packaged in two boxes; one requiring painting, one not. After a lot of surface prep, about a million coats of primer, and a solid number of coats of black, my kit was painted and ready for install.
While the kit came with complete and thorough instructions, I feel they COULD have been just a bit more professional, however were complete and detailed everything for the install.
Now the fun part: installation!
The most risky part of this installation is removing the factory hinges. Of the eight Torx bolts holding the hinges on I had no issue getting seven of them to break free. That said, I had one bolt that decided to strip out. I drilled it and promptly broke off an easy-out in the bolt severely limiting my options. Luckily an old trick worked and using a punch and a hammer was able to "worry" the bolt out and could proceed with the install.
The hinge plate (bottom bar across the tailgate) went on without a hitch, drilling out the old small holes and re-tapping. I opted to drill through the tailgate for the last two bolts (on the drivers side) as mine did not have a plate I could tap into.
Once the plate is installed, I marked, center punched, and drilled the holes in the body for the lower hinges. The hardest part of the install was getting these bolted in place. You have to slip a nut-plate into a quarter-sized hole in the underside of the body. The instructions say to remove the rear four body mounts, but I had to take out the aft six to get enough clearance. To say this part was frustrating would be an understatement. I ended up using zip ties, string, and the "installation wire" to get the plates into place. It took using some extended bolts and two people to get the plate into place, then held, finally swapping the long bolts for the short ones, one at a time. Again, extremely frustrating! Once this part is done, it is DONE and this is the reason I recommend getting the bottom panel at the same time and not trying to install it later.
Once done with the lower hinges, the rest of the install is very straight forward. Install the support wire brackets in the tub, just make sure you put them in the same place, at an angle, and that you drill STRAIGHT. I managed to wallow out a hole on the drivers side and had to remove the gas filler cap and use a through-bolt (which worked very well) but was more work than it needed to be.
Once the hinges are installed, the rest of the install is pretty simple. Just bolt the other plates on when and where they say to and you're almost done! Last step is to adjust the backlash in the factory latch (the pin moves and you will need to move it) and adjust how much tension is on the pin mechanism with the kit.
Obviously you will have to adapt to your Jeep and your situation, but overall, the install was a lot of fun. Word of warning, you must be familiar and comfortable with drilling your tub, tapping holes, and removing stubborn bolts.
The install instructions call for some extremely specific drill bits and your local hardware store likely won't have them, but I was able to make do with my Dewalt drill set. Again, minor adaptations are the name of the game, but overall, this is a fun install (albeit frustrating at times) and the kit really is complete. I am EXTREMELY happy with it and get a ton of comments on it. Solid job on the part of Troy at SWAG...great great kit.